Dale Hawkins, of course, is best known for "Suzie-Q" -- a Top 30 Billboard hit for him in 1957 that turned into a garage rock standard in the '60s.
During that decade, Hawkins was relatively quiet as a record-maker, but he did behind-the-scenes work as a producer before resurfacing in 1969 with LA, Memphis & Tyler, Texas on Bell Records.
Named after the three towns it was recorded in, it's a bit easy to overrate LA, Memphis upon its first listen because it comes as a shock that Hawkins was more than a rockabilly cat.
He was an early roots rocker, certainly, playing rockabilly but also touching back on its blues and country roots, plus hitting a bunch of stuff in between -- and don't forget the L.A.
in the title, either, since he did give this album several splashes of snazzy showbiz pizzazz reminiscent of Sonny Bono.
Those showbiz colors -- primarily the blaring horn charts and studio slickness achieved with heavy reverb and occasionally punctuated by flutes, fuzz guitars, and Mellotrons -- give this album a polish that makes it go down easy but also treads a bit close too kitsch, making this an artifact of a plaid-n-paisley era.
But it's also a period piece in another way: it does capture the time when roots rock was forming in the music of the Band, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and Tony Joe White, and those really are the closest touchstones to Hawkins' work here.
Yes, there is a little bit of unintentional camp here, but that's part of what makes it entertaining, since it marks it as a late-'60s LP and makes the visionary stuff here -- the times when he knocks down borders between soul and rock, when he digs into funky, bluesy workouts that sound like all genres without belonging to any of them -- still sound vibrant and exciting decades later.